Eustis Estate

Ezekial Hersey Derby Farm

Michele Felice Cornè (1752–1845)
Salem, Massachusetts, c. 1800
Oil on canvas
45 1/8 x 57 3/4 in.
Gift of Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little

As a trustee of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, founded in 1792, Ezekiel Hersey Derby (1772–1852) was keenly interested in introducing scientific principles to farming practices. Some of those principles are seen here—deep plowing, working in an orderly and neat manner, and using manure as fertilizer. The stone walls surrounding the fields suggest that Derby faced the same challenges that confronted most New England farmers. Boulders and rocks appear in this region like an ineradicable annual crop, the shallow soil and freeze-thaw cycle bringing them to the surface year after year.

This photograph by Frank Cousins (1851–1925), undated, shows the farm’s barn. Image courtesy of Frank Cousins Collection of Glass Plate Negatives, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.